Tag Archive for 'athens'

‘FOR THE RIGHT TO A SAFE HOME’

Four refugee squats evicted in Athens

Within just one week Greek police forces in April 2019 have evicted four refugee squats in Athens all located in Exarchia area leaving around 200-300 refugees homeless. While authorities are politically framing the operation as ‘a step forward in an anti-drug campaign’ in the area, their efforts have hit the ones in need of protection instead and criminalize the refuee squats. Refugee families, many with kids, are left ever since on the streets. They are now not only again unprotected and with empty hands but also (re–)traumatized. Around 60 refugees are protesting since two days at Syndaghma Square.

On 18 April 2019 two refugee squats in Exarchia (Athens) got raided in the early morning hours around 5am. People residing respectively in Clandestina and Cyclopi squats got evicted with a massive police presence. In total 68 refugees (among them 25 kids) were arrested and after more than 4 hours released to the streets of Athens. Among the homeless are refugees from Afghanistan, Iran and Eritrea amongst others. There are many families, single mothers and small children. A pregnant lady had to be transferred to the hospital after the terror of the eviction. She is in danger to suffer a miscarriage. Sick refugees lost track of their medicines, prescriptions and attestations.

Everything I had is in that locked building now: My tax number, by social insurance documents, medical papers… I am at zero again. They didn’t let us take anything.

A young refugee former resident of Clandestina squat
copyright: Salinia Stroux

In the early afternoon of the same day mothers, fathers and children from different countries started together a protest in Syndaghma Square in the centre of Athens demanding dignified housing and safety from the Greek state. Despite the strong cold, they remained over night in a dozen tents set up in opposite side to the Greek parliament. The only ‘offer’ by the police until now was to find ‘shelter’ in the pre-removal detention centre in Amygdaleza, which refugees denied to accept.

copyright: Salinia Stroux

I suffer from psychological problems. My doctor instructed me to not stress myself. Yesterday in the morning we woke up by the sound of shouting and suddenly a lot of police entered the place we were sleeping in. Some of us got pushed. I had two panic attacks the last two days. Half of my body got paralysed from the fear. I am still under shock. Where should we go now?

A refugee lady former resident of Clandestina squatI
copyright: Salinia Stroux

I was sleeping with my children, when I suddenly woke up with guns being held in front of my eyes. There was police everywhere. I tried to collect our most important belongings. The police was shouting: ‘Fast, fast!’ Two of my kids have heart problems. One of them has Asthma. … It is six months I am trying to call the asylum service from Skype without success. Without the asylum seeker card, I can not apply for housing.

A refugee mother of three minors former resident of Clandestina squat
copyright: Bijan Sabbagh

Only a few days earlier, on 11 April 2019 Azadi squat and neighboring Babylon had also been raided by the police. Around 200 cops were reported on site that day. Refugees stated, that the police forces evaded the place suddenly at dawn. Approx. 90 persons got arrested and transferred to Amygdaleza pre-removal detention centre. The buildings were locked while their personal belongings were thrown on the street.

copyright: Azadi Squat

On 19 April the evicted families are remaining in Syndaghma square. They prepare to sleep one more night in the cold lacking any alternative. Authorities still have not found any solution for their accommodation. The protesting refugee stated, there were 20 kids among them and they would stay until there was a real solution found for them all.

We just demand a safe place for us and our kids!

A refugee mother of two toddlers with severe health problems and former resident of Clandestina squat
copyright: Salinia Stroux

Meanwhile, more than 70,000 refugees are estimated to live in Greece currently. Approx. 23,000 are sheltered in flats by UNHCRs’ ESTIA program (March 2019), another 28,000 are being provisory placed under deplorable conditions in temporary accommodation sites in mainland Greece (15,000) or the six infamous ‘hotspots’ on the Aegean Islands and in Fylakio (in Evros region) (13,000) and 6,000 stay in short-term housing provided by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in 54 hotels all over Greece.

copyright: Marios Lolos

At the same time, an unknown number of protection seekers remains without an official shelter sleeping rough in public spaces or staying unofficially in the states’ refugee camps. They remain without access to the monthly allowances provided for by the Cash-Card system of ESTIA housing scheme or the Social Solidarity Fund (KEA), which people with refugee status can apply for along with Greek citizens. Without a roof over their head, without money to buy food or medicines, they would be exposed to life-threatening conditions, if not their self-organisation in around 12 refugee squats in Athens and other solidarity spaces would create the ‘welcoming and protective spaces’ that the state fails to secure.

copyright: Salinia Stroux

Read the announcements of City Plaza Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space

The ” Montmartre” of politicking, riot police and racism (18.04.2019)

Two days ago we experienced the second act of operation “target refugees to harvest votes”. Heavily armed squadrons of MAT and EKAM riot police units invaded two refugee squats in the neighborhood of Exarchia. As with the previous police operations, no links were found between the refugee squats and the local mafias. In addition, no refugee was arrested for any criminal act. Drugs displayed by the police were found in another irrelevant apartment.

But the government’s goal was achieved. That is to say, a large quantity of “law and order” style TV show material was produced. Refugees were once again targeted as criminals. SYRIZA sent out the message that there is no need to vote for New Democracy since they too can act out the role of a police state.

The fact that some dozens of refugees have nowhere to sleep is a minor detail which politicians and the media couldn’t show any less interest for.

Mrs. Papakosta’s “Montmartre” consists of repression, politicking and racism but no rights and solidarity.

Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza

copyright: Salinia Stroux

Government and police use refugees as scapegoats (13.04.2019)

The police operation that took place 2 days ago in Exarchia, against the two refugee squats was not directed against the mafia in the neighbourhood. Despite the propaganda, they did not find anything in the squats to link them with mafia. The goal of the government and the police was a show of power. Refugees have been turned into scapegoats for pre-election purposes. Refugee targeting does not harm mafia, but it strengthens the racist stereotype of identifying “foreigners/refugees” with criminal activity and of course, opens the way to fascist violence. 

We remind them that the squats are the voices against the failed policies of the state on “migration management”. The housing problem is more acute than ever, for both refugees and locals. Instead of finding solutions for the housing problems, government and the oppositions are turning against those who have no shelter and hope. The recipe is classic: Instead of limiting poverty, targeting and criminalising poverty. 

Do not let them impose the policy of fear and hatred.

Refugees Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza

copyright: Salinia Stroux

Protest of refugee families against delayed transfers to their beloved ones in Germany

Today again dozens of refugee families gathered in Athens in front of the Asylum Service at Katekhaki to demand their immediate transfer to Germany. At the same time, some others gathered for a protest in Heraklion, Crete Island.

“We escaped the war in Syria as a family. On our way to Europe we got separated from our small daughter, when the smugglers split us in groups by force. We didn’t know if she is alive for months and we haven’t seen her for more than three years. We got stuck in Greece before two years but got the acceptance to go to Germany already back in March 2017,” says the father F. His wife cannot talk anymore without crying. “I just miss my daughter,” she says with tears in her eyes.

The mothers and children in front of the Asylum Service pound on the metal fence around the Asylum Services gate shouting loudly: “We want to go! We want to go!”
Continue reading ‘Protest of refugee families against delayed transfers to their beloved ones in Germany’

Reunite us with our families now!”

Call for refugee protest on Syndagma Square
Wednesday 1st November 2017 at 11am

We are more than 4,000 refugees awaiting our transfer to Germany – most of which are families who are waiting already more than 18 months in Greece under deplorable conditions.

We escaped from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to find security and peace near our beloved.

Many of us have received the acceptance from Germany since more than 6 months, passing the maximum deadline for the transfer defined by European law due an unofficial and illegal deal between Germany and Greece.

Our waiting period has reached now in average nine months from the date of acceptance. Currently, people who get tickets issued have received their acceptance in January 2017. Everybody has to still pay his/her ticket by him/herself.

– We have been promised many things.
– We have heard these promises many times.
– We are tired to listen, tired to wait, tired to hope.
– We have not received at any point of time a clear answer on who is deciding how many people can leave in one month or who is putting numeral limits on transfers.
– We have not received at any point a clear answer on who is deciding which persons are considered vulnerable and can travel faster and based on which criteria this is decided.
– We just want to know now when we will go to our families. And we want to be treated all equally without any discrimination.

We therefore demand:
· from the Greek and the German government to respect the legal limit of six months to reunify our families from the date of acceptance.
· from the German and Greek authorities to immediately charter flights for all the refugees that have already been waiting more than six months.
· from the Greek authorities that the money for our tickets will be paid by the state as provided by law. The tickets are one more obstacle for our family reunifications.

For all these reasons, our struggle goes on Wednesday 1st November 2017 at 11am at Syndagma Square. Join us and raise your voices with ours!

We are protesting since four months against the limitation of transfers to Germany for family reunifications. We want to shout out against the cruel migration policy of deterrence that Europe imposes on us and our families; a system that is aimed to unnerve us and let us give up. But we will stand upright. We want to tear down the walls that stop us from being with our fathers, mothers and children. We will continue our struggle until we succeed.

No more discrimination!
We demand our right on family unity and a dignified life in peace now!
The right to stay and freedom of movement for all.

Refugees from different camps and places in Greece

Let our families reunite now! – Refugee protest tomorrow at Greek Asylum Service in Athens

“Let our families reunite now!”

Refugee protest on Tuesday, September 19th at 11am in front of the offices of the Greek Asylum Service / Dublin Offices near Katekhaki metro station.

We, the Syrian families from different camps in Greece (i.e. Elaionas, Koutsochero, Ritsona and Skaramangas), who have our beloved relatives in Germany are inviting all refugees who are separated from their relatives and everybody else who wants to join our struggle for justice and human rights, to a peaceful protest on Tuesday September 19th at 11 o’clock in front of the offices of the Greek Asylum Service / Dublin Offices near Katekhaki metro station.

We want to express for one more time our strong concern and disagreement about the informal agreement between the German and the Greek government, which in practice limited radically the transfers of persons accepted through family reunification to 70 per month.

Refugees receiving tickets nowadays in order to fly in October and later have received their decisions from Germany from January 2017 and onwards. More than 4,600 have received a positive answer from Germany since the beginning of the year of which until mid-August only 221 had left Greece. This results in more than 4,300 persons awaiting their tickets to go to Germany in Greece more than half of which are children. The vast majority of us come from war torn Syria, but there are also many refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq waiting to join their relatives as well as from other countries.

Don‘t separate us but respect our fundamental right on family life!
Freedom of movement for all – Stop deportations!
Close the camps; stop the isolation and ghettoization of refugees!
Open houses and provide for human living standards inside the cities!
Access to social rights for all!
Access for all protection seekers to a prompt and fair asylum procedure!

Read the full call here

Urgent call for solidarity with our dear friend S.

Farewell sister!

We first met S. in December 2015, an 41-year-old woman from Uganda victim of torture in her country. She was waiting in the cold with hundreds of other refugees in the informal tent camp in Idomeni at the border to FYROM, the time when the borders started to gradually close, beginning with refugees who were not from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan (non-SIA countries). Along with many others, she had the hope that the Balkan corridor would re-open for all and she could move forward and later re-unite with her family in a better place. We met her while she was cooking in a big casserole for the group of African refugees she was staying with. We remember her tired and sad smile of those days. Full of stress, she asked us what would happen to her and all the other people if the borders would not re-open. Who would help her if she had to stay in Greece, she asked. Who could support her two children, which got separated from their mother and who had at that time remained back alone in Turkey. 

When S. gave up trying to leave Greece and came back to Athens, we offered her a safe place to stay in the Welcome Island, a solidarity flat run by private donations as a grassroots project. She stayed for more than one year in the apartment, co-living first with people from Somalia and later from Afghanistan and Uganda. Sharing a room with women from another culture, who had their own problems and suffering, was not always easy, but S. was a strong, honest and faithful partner in this flat-sharing project and she has never hesitated to help others or to give us a smile. She brought to the flat her friend who was in advanced pregnancy and alone and supported her to stay in the house and get help.

For months she tried hard to find a job in order to support her family. During the whole period of stay S. suffered not only from her very serious health problems and trauma as a victim of torture, but specifically from the separation from her children. She was supported by friends and volunteers, as well as the Greek Refugee Council (GCR), Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), and Babel Day Care Centre until her very last days – even until today.

Tragically, S. finally lost her courageous struggle and died in the early morning of 12th July in a hospital in Athens. Now, we want to say goodbye in dignity and help her on her last journey back to Uganda, where her children have returned to. Her beloved ones, as a last wish for their mother, asked her body to be transferred and buried close to them in Uganda. 

GCR made a solidarity call to collect the amount of 2,100 Euro for the purpose of the transfer of the corpse back home to Uganda. We would like to call for solidarity also from our side and ask you to support the family of S. on these last steps. She never reached her destiny; she could not fulfill her dreams. We want her to be in the arms of her family finally, that this personal fight against the monster Fortress Europe ended for her in Greece. 

Stand by the side of this family now so that S. can reach her children and they can say a last goodbye. Her corpse needs to be transferred soon, so any solidarity is urgent.

Dear S.,

You will be our good friend always and in our hearts forever!

With all our love,

Your room-mates and your support family from infomobile / w2eu

For solidarity donations please use the following GCR account:

National Bank of Greece: GR5301101160000011629606464
Piraeus Bank: GR8001720320005032016706911

Happy Birthday City Plaza!

On April 22, 2017 we celebrate together one year of solidarity with our CP-family

City Plaza today is everywhere:
In Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Serbia, Sweden … !
It is not just a building, but a home defined by its people. From here solidarity is spread like seeds we carry in our small luggage to continue the struggle for equal rights everywhere we’ll go.

Former residents now living in other countries have collected songs and wishes as a present for City Plazas birthday. Their thoughts were brought together once more in a small booklet. It is dedicated to the ones who are still on their journey, as well as to the ones that are struggling to arrive and the ones who stand with them. It is dedicated also to the ones we lost on this road but who will be in our hearts forever!

We will stand always together and we shall never give up!

OPEN HOUSES! SMASH BORDERS!
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT FOR ALL!

download the booklet here

No re-instalation of Dublin returns to Greece! Solidarity to all squats!

One year after the closure of the Balkan Route – One year after the EU-Turkey Deal – Six years after the halt of Dublin returns to Greece: 62,000 and more refugees are stuck in limbo in Greece merely able to survive

copyright: noborder

Two days ago, two squats in Athens got attacked and raided by Greek police on March 13, 2017. In one of the squats 127 refugees were hosted. This repressive measure comes one year after the closure of the Balkan Route when more than 57,000 refugees got trapped in Greece and were transferred in provisory tent camps without any assistance, which were set up ad hoc over the night were run in the majority of cases by the army. It is a period where still 23,000-30,000 refugees have no adequate housing but stay under inhuman conditions in state run camps – some of which still are in tents! Among them are hundreds of highly vulnerable people placed at the margins of Greek society without adequate support and any survival perspective on the long run.

On March 13th, the Athens police raided in the early morning hours two squats in the capital one of which in Alkiviadou Street (near Aharnon) was hosting more than 120 refugees since February, who all got apprehended. The other squat which got raided was “Villa Zografou”, an alternative social space and one of the oldest squats in Athens. More then 120 persons were arrested in Alkiviadou Squat and eight persons in Villa Zografou. After one day detention at the Central Aliens Police Departement Petrou Ralli only 31 got transferred to Skaramangas Camp. All the rest of the arrested refugees were left in the middle of the nights on the streets with anywhere to go, while the activists had been released quickly after the apprehension. Many of them are families and people with medical problems from Syria (according to activists there were two people diagnosed with diabetes, one pregnant woman, a man in a wheelchair and one woman who had recently had surgery on her back with severe pain). They finally found emergency housing in other squats and through volunteers. People who were arrested in the squats and who did not have papers, were taken to detention in Amygdaleza pre-removal detention centre where they will stay until their registration. In the meantime more than 1,500 people protested in the evening against the eviction of the two squats. The next day the refugees tried to pick up their belongings from piles outside of the evicted building in Alkiviadou but they were soon stopped by the police and their belongings got thrown in the garbage. Even documents or other important things like medicines got lost this way. The building which was squatted belongs to the Red Cross, which announced that they had planned to open a reception centre for unaccompanied minors there. Continue reading ‘No re-instalation of Dublin returns to Greece! Solidarity to all squats!’

AI: Deep concerns over bad conditions in Elliniko Camp

Following a research visit in Elliniko on February 4th, Lia Gogou (researcher for Amnesty International in Greece and Cyprus) expressed her deep concern about the miserable conditions in Elliniko Camp and the lack of alternatives for refugees staying there.

“The refugees are stuck here since one year. Our researcher during their visit last Saturday documented big problems inthe sanitary infrastructure, the lack of fresh air and sufficient toilettes and showers. They saw people sleeping in tents, exposed to the cold and rain. Refugees themselves mentioned they were worried about the quality of the food and the limited access to hot water. Among people interviewed were highly vulnerable persons such as unaccompanied minor boys and single mothers. They said they were not feeling safe in the camp, and they were desperate due to bad living conditions and the lack of alternatives.”

Many Afghan refugees, of whom AI has taken interviews are excluded from the relocation scheme merely by their nationality and from family reunification as their relatives might not belong to the close definition of a family unit. There are many highly vulnerable refugees that should be legally moved with Humanitarian Visas to other EU-states as their survival cannot be secured in Greece.

Happy Birthday City Plaza Squat!

6 months – more than 1,000 refugees hosted

A booklet with memories, thoughts and feelings of the ones who were there from the very first day and who stayed until today.

City Plaza 6 months Birthday

Athens: Hundreds take to the streets and demand open borders

copyright: Salinis Stroux

copyright: Salinis Stroux

During an antiracist rally that started from Victoria Square in the centre of Athens and passed the Greek Parliament to reach the Offices of the Representation of the European Commission in Greece, hundreds of antiracists along with many Afghan refugees demanded the opening of the border, protection and a safe passage instead of deportations. The Afghans came from different transit camps as Elliniko and Schisto.

Freedom of movement is everybody’s right!


copyright: Salinia Stroux

The infomobile

... is like a “paper boat”. We chose this as a metaphor for what we want to create and for the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. The paper boat is a folded boat able to swim – for a while. Then you have to build a new one to go on travelling. A paper boat is symbolic for the journey of life, vulnerable but in your own hands and to be recreated again and again. It is simple, but it carries many hopes and dreams. It can dance on a turbulent sea. It belongs to everybody. And it might become the small version – like a first draft – of a welcome-space.

Get in touch

email: infomobile.w2eu@gmail.com

RSS Clandestina

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    Clandestina is participating in Bulletin, a group of local and migrant activists publishing the magazine under the same name aiming to help break the barriers of communication and unite our struggles in both the cities and the migrants’ camps. Bulletin is a multilingual magazine published in Arabic, English, French, Albanian, Farsi… You can vist Bulletin’s […]

RSS Group of Lawyers – Athens

  • NOTICE
    The GROUP OF LAWYERS FOR THE RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES advises you that legal counselling WILL NOT be provided anymore after 18th December 2018. You are therefore kindly requested to contact other organisations providing legal assistance. ________________________________________________________ Le GROUPE DES AVOCATS POUR LES DROITS DES MIGRANTS ET DES RÉFUGIÉS souhaite vous informer que

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